• GERMANIC MIGRATIONS AND
  • FRANKISH KINGDOM
  • JOHANNES REUCHLIN
  • THE WEIMAR CONSTITUTION
  • W
  • INFLATION, REPARATIONS, AND
  • THE STRESEMANN ERA, 19231929
  • STABILIZATION AND LOCARNO,
  • CULTURE AND SOCIETY
  • ROAD TO DICTATORSHIP,
  • T
  • CONSOLIDATION OF POWER
  • THE NAZI TOTAL STATE
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  • A
  • ALLIED PLANS AND CONFERENCES
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  • T
  • UPRISING OF JUNE 17, 1953
  • ECONOMIC SYSTEM
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  • R
  • CONSEQUENCES AND PROBLEMS OF
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  • FOREIGN POLICY
  • GOVERNMENT AND ELECTIONS,
  • HISTORICAL DICTIONARY A
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  • LITERATURE
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  • GERMANIC MIGRATIONS AND
  • OSTPOLITIK (FOREIGN POLICY

    WITH THE EAST)

    The chancellorship of Willy Brandt coincided with the era of more peaceful

    relations (détente) between Russia and the United States. The superpowers

    desired more peaceful relations between West and East Germany, a desire that

    coincided with the goals of Brandt and Walter Scheel. These leaders were

    among a group of policy makers called the new realists who competed with

    such older points of view as the Atlanticists and the Gaullists, who believed

    that European interests did not always coincide with those of the United States.

    What Brandt and Scheel wanted to accomplish was to improve East-West relations,

    create stability for West Berlin, and improve contacts between East and

    West Germans. In return the West Germans would agree to give up the Hallstein

    Doctrine and accept the post-1945 boundary changes in Eastern Europe.

    These policy changes had been prepared in some small way by attempts during

    the Erhard government to create a thaw in East-West relations. Then a behindthe-

    scenes adviser to Brandt, Egon Bahr (SPD), promoted the idea of friendlier

    relations, change through rapprochement between East and West. Out of this

    optimistic thinking emerged a new and realistic policy toward the East, rather

    than that based on the Hallstein Doctrine, which refused to recognize the

    regime of the GDR and attempted to isolate it internationally. The new Ostpolitik

    of Willy Brandt was both a process and a goal, which resulted in a series

    of bilateral agreements between West Germany and the Soviet Union, then the

    Communist regimes of Eastern Europe, and finally the GDR.

    The Treaty of Moscow, signed on August 12, 1970, was the basis of the system

    of Eastern treaties devised by the SPD/FDP government. The nonaggression

    agreement and the recognition of existing borders, which the treaty

    contained, also formed the basis of later treaties with Poland, Czechoslovakia,

    and the GDR. Linked with the treaty was the four powers agreement on Berlin,

    the Basic Treaty of 1972, which eased restrictions on traffic to West Berlin. It

    also made possible visits by West Berliners to the communist eastern part of the

    city. The problems that were confronted in crafting an agreement over Berlin

    were enormous. Since the Allies retained sovereign rights over the Western sectors

    of the city, talks between the four powers were necessary. After months

    of negotiation the Big Four powers finally concluded the 1972 agreement,

    which gave recognition to East Germany while the Russians and the GDR

    agreed to respect the ties of West Berlin to West Germany.

    Since the foreign policy debates of the 1950s there had never been such bitter

    political struggles in the Federal Republic. Opposition to the treaties was led

    by Franz Josef Strauss, leader of the CSU, Helmut Kohl, deputy chairman of the

    CDU, and Erich Mende of the right wing of the FDP. The conservatives tried to

    oust Chancellor Brandt by a constructive vote of no confidence, which failed,

    though the debates did not subside until the parliamentary elections of

    The Federal Republic 169

    November 19, 1972. Brandt made sure that elections would occur through a

    no-confidence motion, which ensured the elections and confirmed the socialliberal

    coalition in office. The conservatives even rejected the treaties during

    the confirmation process. Nevertheless, that was all part of the growth of West

    German democracy. A different political approach was followed in the GDR,

    where the hard-liner, Walter Ulbricht, still ruled. Ulbricht disagreed with

    Brandts proposals and was soon undemocratically replaced by Moscow with

    the more agreeable party leader Erich Honecker.

    Against considerable opposition from the CDU/CSU, Brandt was able to push

    through a series of treaties and agreements that culminated in the Basic Treaty

    between East and West Germany in December 1972 and ratified in May 1973.

    The two Germanies accepted equality of status in relations with each other. In

    September 1973 both Germanies were accepted as independent states in the

    United Nations. Even though both Germanies recognized each other, that did

    not mean that they accepted the other as a foreign state, but in a special relationship

    exchanging permanent representatives and not ambassadors.

    Brandts new eastern policy succeeded in easing tensions between the two

    Germanies and made West Germany a participant in détente.

    Brandts coalition soon faced troubled times. The Yom Kippur War of October

    6, 1973, in which Egypt and Syria attacked Israel, led to the Arab oil

    embargo. An economic downturn resulted because the industries of West Germany

    were mostly dependent on Middle Eastern oil, which tripled in cost.

    Inflation had already damaged the economy, due to massive government

    spending on education, social welfare, and defense. As Brandts popularity

    declined, international terrorism at the Olympic Games in Munich during 1972

    also embarrassed the government when a helicopter sent to rescue the Jewish

    athletes exploded. Unfortunately and unknown to Brandt his close personal

    adviser, Günter Guillaume, was an East German spy, which after his exposure

    led to Brandts resignation. Although Brandt continued as chair of the SPD and

    went on to become president of the Socialist International, his colleague, Walter

    Scheel, was elected federal president and Hans-Dietrich Genscher (FDP)

    became foreign minister.

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